The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 201

well enough to get along anywhere that it is spoken."

Grayson wanted a bookkeeper worse than he could ever recall having
wanted anything before in all his life. His better judgment told him
that it was the height of idiocy to employ a ragged bum as a bookkeeper;
but the bum was at least as much of a hope to him as is a straw to a
drowning man, and so Grayson clutched at him.

"Go an' turn your cayuse in an' then come back here," he directed, "an'
I'll give you a tryout."

"Thanks," said Bridge, and rode off in the direction of the pasture
gate.

"'Fraid he won't never do," said Grayson, ruefully, after Bridge had
passed out of earshot.

"I rather imagine that he will," said the boss. "He is an educated man,
Grayson--you can tell that from his English, which is excellent. He's
probably one of the great army of down-and-outers. The world is full
of them--poor devils. Give him a chance, Grayson, and anyway he adds
another American to our force, and each one counts."

"Yes, that's right; but I hope you won't need 'em before you an' Miss
Barbara go," said Grayson.

"I hope not, Grayson; but one can never tell with conditions here such
as they are. Have you any hope that you will be able to obtain a safe
conduct for us from General Villa?"

"Oh, Villa'll give us the paper all right," said Grayson; "but it won't
do us no good unless we don't meet nobody but Villa's men on the way
out. This here Pesita's the critter I'm leery of. He's got it in for all
Americans, and especially for El Orobo Rancho. You know we beat off a
raid of his about six months ago--killed half a dozen of his men, an' he
won't never forgive that. Villa can't spare a big enough force to give
us safe escort to the border and he can't assure the safety of the train
service. It looks mighty bad, sir--I don't see what in hell you came
for."

"Neither do I, Grayson," agreed the boss; "but I'm here and we've got
to make the best of it. All this may blow over--it has before--and we'll
laugh at our fears in a few weeks."

"This thing that's happenin' now won't never blow over 'til the stars
and stripes blow over Chihuahua," said Grayson with finality.

A few moments later Bridge returned to the office, having unsaddled his
pony and turned it into the pasture.

"What's your name?" asked Grayson, preparing to enter it in his time
book.

"Bridge," replied the new bookkeeper.

"'Nitials," snapped

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